LORD MAYORS & SHERIFFS
The first Lord Mayor of York was Thomas Smith, who was granted this title in 1389 by Richard II who also presented him with a sword when visiting the City.
In 1396 Richard II gave the City the status of a County and granted it the right to appoint two Sheriffs. The Sheriffs replaced three Bailiffs who had similar duties.
York's Lord Mayor is second only to the Lord Mayor of London in precedence and its Sheriff holds the oldest office of Sheriff in England and Wales.
Lord Mayor making day
It is very probably that some sort of ceremony was enacted when mayors were first inaugurated back in the 13th century, although sadly this has been lost in the mists of time. However, we do get glimpses of intrigue and not so ceremonial investiture, in 1381 the hooded retainers and citizen of Simon de Quixley and John De Guisburn crossed swords over who should be mayor.
By the eighteenth century the process of mayor making was well established and so was the wine list as the incoming Lord Mayor was to provide 70lb of biscuits, 3 gallons of red wine and 2.5 of white; 'caution 2 biscuits each, take care there are many pillagers'.
To assist all Lord Mayors to follow, a Lord Mayor in the 1780s, wrote an anonymous and interesting pamphlet which among its revealing advice is the following ‘when he enters upon his office is a stranger . Advice to have proper people to examine minutely everything borrowed and to see them returned and to keep an account of breakage and items left for use in the MH. Otherwise there will be a great inquisition.
Mayor making ceremony today takes place in the ancient guildhall and before this hall was built the ancient common on the same site. The ceremony has taken place on this site since the thirteenth century over these long centuries the tradition has only been broken on a couple of occasions, that was the building of the Guildhall in the 1450s and the destruction of the hall in 1942.